ON THE MOVE-Morgan Stanley hires veteran Merrill Lynch advisers

July 23 Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:18pm EDT

July 23 (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley Smith Barney expanded its U.S. broker force in California, Georgia and Indiana after landing three veteran advisers from rival brokerage Merrill Lynch, the wealth management unit owned by Bank of America .

The advisers managed around $500 million in client assets at Merrill Lynch, according to sources familiar with the size of the moves. They moved in June to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the brokerage jointly owned by Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.

In Georgia, adviser Thomas McDavid moved to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney after 13 years at Merrill Lynch, where he managed about $300 million in client assets and generated more than $1.6 million in annual revenue production. He joined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney's Atlanta office, where Michael Outlaw is complex manager.

In Indiana, adviser Jonathan Spafford moved to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney after more than 25 years at Merrill Lynch, where he managed $140 million in client assets and generated about $2.2 million in annual revenue production. He joined the firm in Indianapolis, where Kathy Birk is complex manager.

In California, adviser Robert Gilson moved to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney's Montecito office, where Patrice Humbel is branch manager. Gilson started his career at Merrill Lynch in 1983, according to regulatory filings, and also worked at Prudential Securities. He had an annual revenue production of roughly $750,000, which typically translates to $75 million or more in client assets.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney did not immediately return a request for confirmation of the new hires, but regulatory documents filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority show the advisers all moved in June. Merrill Lynch did not return a request for a comment.

Since the start of the year, at least 110 veteran advisers who managed more than $21 billion in client assets have departed the brokerage, based on moves tracked by Reuters. More than a third of those client assets were managed by advisers who moved to Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch are the two largest U.S. brokerages by client assets and adviser headcount and often vie for the same pools of advisers.